[SIGCIS-Members] Fw: Question about early female architect barred from men's club

James Cortada jcortada at umn.edu
Sat Sep 11 14:11:39 PDT 2021

I am not sure how much insight I can add to this discussion, but here goes
with a broader contextual report on the men's clubs.

I worked at IBM from 1974 through 2012, all in jobs that required my
dealing with customers, senior public officials, and with institutions of
long standing, many over a century in existence.  Such clubs were largely
dining and conference room facilities, often established long before there
were such facilities in business offices and hotels.  So until the end of
the 1970s and by custom into the 1980s in the US there existed clubs
dedicated to specific professions or white collar professions more
generally and were neutral ground where private conversations could be had,
say, between business leaders and state governors and legislators.  I know,
as I hosted some over the years in New York (Yale Club), Atlanta,
Nashville, and Madison, WI, among others.  Most clubs--yes you had to join
so only people in those professions, etc.were admitted--were thus aimed at
the social, business, and political elite.  These were very useful
facilities. Portraits of famous members hung on the walls, largely a 19th
century practice that ended in the cases I recall by the end of the 1920s.
You could always get a magnificent steak (guy food), creamed
spinach (fabulous everywhere), mashed potatoes and if you want, Bourbon
over ice at lunch time. But the point  I want to make is that when these
clubs were formed, its members were in professions not occupied by women,
e.g., no female governors or CEOs.  These places were strictly for
conducting business in a casual way, i.e., over a meal or a drink, so
having women participate would have disturbed the model.  In large cities,
women had tea rooms in large department stores by the end of the 1880s
where they--often the wives of the men's clubs' members--could meet.  Not
until the 1960s when women had started a pretty extensive penetration into
the professions served by these men's clubs did the issue of their
membership begin to be discussed and acted upon.  IT industry techi
managers were part of the scene.

This is not meant to be a defense of these clubs, rather an explanation for
their behavior, which its members probably as a group did not view as a
problem until women pushed back since such descrimination prevented them
from using similar facilities with which to cultivate customers, clients,
etc.  More obviously a problem, however, was that these clubs were
notoriously hostile toward having African American members.  If my
recollections are still intact, in almost every one of the facilities, all
the servers were African American males, often over the age of 40.  A few
white female servers also worked in these clubs.

I might add, a parallel circumstance existed with golf country clubs, but
since these were largely the product of post WWI America, the gender
barrier had not taken as strong a hold across the nation. Some clubs
stipulated what days women could use the restaurant without their husbands,
and there were days when the course was available only to the "Ladies,"
usually Wednesdays or Thursdays. They could, however, play tennis or use
the swimming pools whenever they wanted.  But, right to the end of the 20th
century there were some clubs that blocked women--recall the Masters
Tournament (Augusta National Golf Club) in the 2010s that tried to block
IBM's CEO, Ginni Rometty, from being a member (although for 80 years all of
IBM's CEOs were) and yet IBM was a corporate sponsor.  Eventually they let
her join the club and she walked in wearing a pink sports jacket!  I think
that day thousands of American IBM women let out a cheer.

On Sat, Sep 11, 2021 at 3:17 PM Sharon Traweek <traweek at history.ucla.edu>

> re early female architect barred from men's club
> Here is some background information:  From the mid-70s to the late 80s there
> were many demonstrations, often led by lawyers, journalists, and those in
> other professions who were excluded from work-related discussions held at
> men-only and sometimes white-only social clubs.  The sites included some
> university alumni clubs. Usually there was extensive newspaper/TV
> coverage. Histories of those events and lawsuits might identify
> participants.
> *Quitting Is Not Acquitting - The New York Times, 3 Jan 1977
> <https://www.nytimes.com/1977/01/03/archives/quitting-is-not-acquitting.html>*
> The troublesome thing about private clubs, in law and in fact, is that
> they are ... Why men only, after all, in Washington's Metropolitan and
> Cosmos Clubs?
> <https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1987/11/07/cosmos-club-attacked-by-dc-ruling/6531aa35-726d-4e34-8a76-86b69e4a1aeb/>*
> Washington Post, 7 Nov 1987.  The sweeping decision is the latest
> development in a long-running conflict over men-only clubs in the District,
> and arises out of a two-pronged .
> *Club Doors Are Open, But Women Draw Back - The New York ..., 14 Sep1988
> <https://www.nytimes.com/1988/09/14/garden/club-doors-are-open-but-women-draw-back.html>*
> Of the University Club's 4,000 members, only 20 are women; .. Many clubs
> have fought such laws and lost; a few are still fighting
> *State Power and Discrimination by Private Clubs - JSTOR
> <https://www.jstor.org/stable/1341620>*
> Harvard Law Review, Vol. 104, No. 8 (Jun., 1991), pp. 1835-1856 (22 pages).
> Private social clubs with discriminatory membership policies are fast
> becoming extinct. Such clubs face mounting informal pressure'.
> S
> Sharon Traweek, UCLA Gender Studies and History Departments
> UCLA Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies
> https://www.international.ucla.edu/japan/article/227444
> https://www.4sonline.org/what-is-4s/4s-prizes/john-desmond-bernal-prize/
> https://www.routledge.com/Questing-Excellence-in-Academia-A-Tale-of-Two-Universities/Sorensen-Traweek/p/book/9780367259334
> As a land grant university
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land-grant_university> UCLA acknowledges
> the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of
> Tovaangar (Los Angeles basin and Southern Channel Islands).
> ------------------------------
> *From:* Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> on behalf of Len
> Shustek <len at shustek.com>
> *Sent:* Saturday, September 11, 2021 12:08 PM
> *To:* Jonathan Coopersmith <j-coopersmith at tamu.edu>; Ellen Spertus <
> spertus at mills.edu>
> *Cc:* SIGCIS Listserver <members at sigcis.org>
> *Subject:* Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Question about early female architect
> barred from men's club
> At 07:41 PM 9/10/2021, Jonathan Coopersmith wrote:
> There are other stories about other women unable to meet with professors
> and other professionals because their clubs banned women -- e.g. Anna G.
> Perkins, *Yale Needs Women*.
> I'm working on a condensation for CACM of Turing Award winner Dana Scott's
> recent oral history. In it he says this:
> Close friends of [Alfred] Tarski were Raphael and Julia Robinson. Julia
> did her thesis under Tarski, but you can't imagine the difference for women
> between 1950 and today. Only men were allowed in the Berkeley Faculty Club,
> so when Tarski suggested at a lunch that there were many problems to be
> solved about rational arithmetic, Julia was not present. Raphael suggested
> that to her later, and that's how Julia's famous thesis eventually evolved,
> where she showed the undecidability of the theory of rational numbers.
> If all goes well, the condensation and a pointer to the full interview
> should be published in about six months.
> Len
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James W. Cortada
Senior Research Fellow
Charles Babbage Institute
University of Minnesota
jcortada at umn.edu
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